Nukewatch Quarterly Spring 2015
“Sometimes man-made radionuclides are compared to naturally occurring radionuclides, such as potassium-40, which is found in bananas. But this is a false comparison since most naturally occurring long-lived radioactive elements, commonly found in Earth’s crust, are very weakly radioactive.
“Note that potassium-40 has a specific activity of 71 ten-millionths of a curie-per-gram. Compare that to 88 curies per gram for cesium-137 and 140 curies per gram for strontium-90. In other words, cesium-137 is 12 million times more radioactive than potassium-40. This is like comparing an atomic bomb to a stick of dynamite. Strontium-90 releases almost 20 million times more radiation per unit mass than potassium-40. Which one of these would you rather have in your bananas?”
—Steven Starr, “The Contamination of Japan with Radioactive Cesium,” Crisis Without End, Helen Caldicott, Ed., The New Press, 2014, p. 46